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megustaleer

The Darkness of Wallis Simpson

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The Darkness of Wallis Simpson is the second of Rose Tremain’s short story collections that I have read and like those in Evangelista’s Fan, they are as good as I always expect of her writing. I still find the short-story form a little disappointing, but these are all interesting, unusual and thought provoking stories.

I bought this collection on the strength of the title as I know nothing, other than the obvious, about Wallis Simpson. I certainly didn’t know about her final days, when her lawyer assumed power-of-attorney over the bed-ridden Duchess, who was suffering from dementia and had lost her power of speech.

Tremain’s story imagines the confusion in Wallis’s head during those days, when her ‘carer’ demands she try to remember details of her life with the Duke of Windsor - who is a pale and shadowy, figure barely existing  in her memory, compared to the more vivid recollections of her previous husbands. It did make me feel a little more sympathetic towards her.

 

Some of the other stories include:

A redundant East German border guard in 1989, tries to reach Russia by bicycling across Poland.

A jilted man gets his revenge after 30 years

A character in an impressionist painting tries to escape from the domestic scene.

A single woman brings up her niece after her sister dies and her brother-in-law takes refuge in the local asylum

And my favourite: An elderly man attempts to improve the lot of some penguins in a Wildlife Sanctuary (and in particular his sponsored penguin) and at same time come to terms with a childhood tragedy.

 

 

As with Evangelista's Fan , a possible theme might be 'unfulfilled hope' - so not a jolly book, but each story says something worth thinking about.

 

 

 

 

 

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